I'm not sure what I want to write; I just know that I want to write something.
Writing is a way of processing for me, and so this post is mostly for myself. If any reader wants to read on, great. Hopefully, there'll be something encouraging for you, too.
I just spent the last several days caring for a dear friend and her family who have experienced great loss...Sweet, baby Livi went to be with the Lord after battling a rare form of Leukemia for more than a year. She was only 2 years old. Those 2 years went quickly, but they are filled with many wonderful memories of precious, fun times spent with her family and friends.
Only hours after Livi passed, I was hugging and crying with her mom in the kitchen of their home. Over the course of the weekend, I listened to many stories about Livi that brought both laughter and tears. I helped Emily go through her clothing, watched her bravely enter Livi's brand new room for the first time which her dad sacrificially prepared for her while she was in the hospital. I read Emily's drafted obituary for her daughter and corrected a misspelled word (What are friends for? Ironically, it was the word "friend" that was misspelled.)
I did some laundry, organized some shoes, brought some food and tissues. I drank some wine and cleaned some dishes. I met some of Emily's friends for the first time and re-acquainted myself with some of her extended family whom I have met in the past. I sat in silence. I also wept. I laughed and listened. I gave permission to be yelled at, kicked out, have things thrown at me or whatever. I just wanted to be there.
Some might find it difficult or uncomfortable to be around those who are grieving the death of a loved one, but I found it more difficult to not be there. I was reminded while there all weekend of the verse in Ecclesiastes 7:2, It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart. I wanted to be near my dear friend and her family who are also so dear to my heart. I have to consider how much more God is desiring to be near to all of them right now; He is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
I spent time in Emily and James' home. I was also at the funeral home and the church where Livi was memorialized. In all those places, at various moments everything in me wanted to stand up and scream, "THIS ISN'T RIGHT! THIS SHOULDN'T BE HAPPENING." I can only imagine how much more Emily and James are feeling that right now. I know that death was not in God's original design. I know He created us to live forever. And while we still do live forever either in Heaven or Hell, we have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death. It feels permanent even though the separation is only temporary. And while we give thanks that one day we will see Livi again and we will be reunited, that temporary separation is so very painful. It leaves us with an ache in our bones almost and an empty feeling in Emily's arms. She wants to hold her baby. She wants to see her laugh again. She wants to care for her, plan for her days, love and cherish all the milestones. I want this for her, too.
At the same time I wanted to scream, I was praying all the while one prayer for myself, for Emily, James and their families. I was and am praying that somehow we will all love God MORE for this and even because of this. It is a prayer of faith because I cannot see how that can happen. I only know of God's power to redeem, to cause us to draw near to Him, to cause us to persevere in Him and to love Him more fully. Somehow, through the most tragic of life's circumstances, we come to know God and love God more deeply. Sometimes, the path that takes us to this place is quite circuitous, winding through bitterness, anger and despair before we come to the love, faith and hope. But, we get there. Why? Only because of God's faithfulness to His own, because of His relentless committment to our good, ultimately because of His unswerving, never faltering love for us.
What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Even in the death of a very loved little girl, God is being mindful of us and not just mindful, but good. I know this even though I can't see how.